- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts on Wednesday demanded to be seated immediately, saying that while he was set to be sworn in Feb. 11, there are a number of votes scheduled prior to that date — votes that, once he is seated, Republicans can defeat.

Democrats, seeking to avoid a prolonged battle over seating a duly elected senator, quickly assented.

In a letter from Mr. Brown’s attorney to Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin — both Democrats — Mr. Brown argued that the results of the special election in Massachusetts on Jan. 19 are not in doubt. While Senator-elect Brown had tentatively planned to be sworn into office February 11, he has been advised that there are a number of votes scheduled prior to that date, For that reason, he wants certification to occur immediately, wrote his attorney, Daniel B. Winslow. As he is the duly elected United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he is entitled to be seated now.

The lawyer asked that the results of the Jan. 19 special election be certified without delay and no later than 11 a.m. Thursday, in time to allow Senator-elect Brown to be administered the oath of office by the Vice President tomorrow afternoon. Hours before Mr. Brown’s demand, Mr. Galvin delivered official copies of the election results to the Governor’s Council. Mr. Patrick’s staff announced that the governor would sign Mr. Brown’s election certificate in the council’s presence — as is required by law — during a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

This will ensure that Sen.-elect Brown’s request to receive the final paperwork by 11 a.m. tomorrow is fulfilled, Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, also was amenable to the demand.

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Once we get his certificate we expect to swear him in tomorrow afternoon as early as five o’clock, which is earlier than he suggested, Jim Manley, Mr. Reid’s spokesman, told the Hill on Wednesday. Once sworn in, Mr. Brown will give Republicans 41 votes in the Senate, one more than the party needs to sustain a filibuster of Democratic initiatives.

Mr. Brown wants to vote on several issues coming before the Senate soon. There are votes coming up on nominees for [General Services Administration] administrator, solicitor of labor and the National Labor Relations Board, said one of his top aides, Eric Fehrnstom.

With 41 votes, Republicans could reject consideration of union lawyer Craig Becker to become a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

Republicans led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who endorsed Mr. Brown’s candidacy, have held up Mr. Becker’s confirmation for months. They say Mr. Becker might use the post to make labor laws more union- friendly without congressional approval.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have actively opposed Mr. Becker, suggesting that his views are out of the mainstream.

He also wants to be in place for a Senate vote on the nomination of M. Patricia Smith to be solicitor for the Department of Labor.

Despite a pledge that he would not rush important votes before Mr. Brown was seated, Mr. Reid called a Monday vote on Mrs. Smith’s nomination. Mrs. Smith, now New York’s labor commissioner, has come under fire for the state’s Wage Watch program. The project, started in January 2009, enlisted unions and advocacy groups to visit private businesses, educate employers about labor laws and report potential wage violations to the government.

Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, put a hold on her nomination and asked President Obama to withdraw his nominee, charging that she gave inconsistent testimony about the program.

Because of Mr. Enzi’s hold, 60 votes were required in the Senate to approve a cloture motion and move to a full floor vote.

The Senate voted Monday along party lines — 60-32 — to move along the confirmation of Mrs. Smith. All 58 Democrats — including the vote of Sen. Paul Kirk, who holds the seat from Massachusetts until Mr. Brown is sworn in — and both independents voted to advance the nomination.

Republican senators said Mr. Reid has not violated his pledge to them.

He’s lived up to that, said Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, who said he interpreted Mr. Reid’s vow as applying only to health care votes.

Democrats last week needed all 60 members of their caucus to push through an increase to the country’s debt limit.

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